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If you like Rudolph Giuliani's story, you might also like:
David Boies,
Willie Brown,
Ruth Bader Ginsburg,
Larry King,
Norman Mailer,
Frank McCourt,
William McRaven,
Alan Simpson,
John Sexton,
Antonio Villaraigosa
and Andrew Young

Rudolph Giuliani's recommended reading: Profiles in Courage

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Rudolph Giuliani
Rudolph Giuliani
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Rudolph Giuliani Interview (page: 6 / 8)

Former Mayor of New York City

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  Rudolph Giuliani

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Take us back to the morning of September 11th. Where were you when you heard the news, and who informed you of what had happened?

Rudolph Giuliani: I was at the Peninsula Hotel on 55th Street, right off Fifth Avenue, and I was having breakfast with Denny Young -- who is my long-time friend and was counsel to the mayor at the time -- and with Bill Simon, who ran for Governor of California. At that point, I think he was a candidate in the primary. Bill won the Republican primary for Governor and then lost a close election. We are old friends; we had worked together in the United States Attorney's Office. Denny, Bill, and I were discussing the Governor's race. We finished breakfast, and Patty Verone, one of the detectives who was on my detail, walked over to Denny Young and had a short conversation with him.

Denny came over to me and told me that there was a fire at the World Trade Center and that a twin-engine plane had hit the North Tower, and that it was a very, very bad fire and very bad emergency. And I said we'd better get down there right away and then walked out of the hotel and looked up in the sky and saw a perfect, beautiful, blue sky and said to myself, "I can't believe this could be an accident. This can't be an accident, not on a day like today."

Because it's easy to navigate an aircraft on a perfectly clear day?

Rudolph Giuliani: Yes. To be that far off-course and to hit a large building just couldn't possibly have happened by accident. It had to be some kind of deliberate act, although it wasn't until the second plane hit that I knew for sure, as we all did, that it was a terrorist attack.

You said in your book that you had not forgotten the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and that you acted after that to help secure the city agencies.

Rudolph Giuliani: I became mayor in 1994, after that bombing took place, but it was during the time that I was beginning to run for mayor.

One of the first things that I did when I became mayor is to start a new office that we never had before, the Office of Emergency Management, which was an agency that would pull together the emergency response for the police department, the fire department, all of the public health agencies, the emergency services divisions. And also, not only coordinate those emergency efforts, but to train us for newer emergencies that we might not have really thought about in 1994. So as a result of the Office of Emergency Management, we had had drills for Sarin gas, plane crashes, anthrax, suicide bombings -- all the different kinds of things that you would have imagined might have happened. And we had antidote available to deal with anthrax, to deal with botulism, to deal with the other, Sarin gas. So as a result of the Office of Emergency Management, we had a lot more training in emergencies than we had had before. And we had a lot more training in emergencies than I'm even sure we thought we needed, because we were doing all this training, but when terrorism was predicted, it didn't happen. So then on September 11, when it did happen in an unpredictable way, there was a lot more preparation for it than people would realize, because we had been training in the past, even when it didn't happen, which is a really good lesson for now.

[ Key to Success ] Preparation

The reality is we get these alerts, then something doesn't happen. What you don't want to occur is complacency. We have to assume that it will happen, and all that training helps even when the unanticipated occurs.

Do you think that preparation saved lives?

Rudolph Giuliani: There's no question that being better trained helped to save lives.

The first report that I got of the number of losses at the World Trade Center was 12,000 or more; and the reason it ended up being less than 3,000 -- which is still a horrific, horrible number -- but the only reason that that difference occurred is because of the way in which they handled the evacuation. And a lot of it was just plain bravery, just the fact that they were willing to stay there -- even knowing in large part the risk -- and more or less not abandon the ship, stay there with the ship. And it created a sense of calm that allowed the evacuation to take place in an orderly way. Because one of the things that did not happen at the World Trade Center -- which I think people who deal with emergencies would say can happen, and maybe if you did a fiction account of it, you would include in it -- is a lot of people being trampled, a lot of people being killed in the evacuation. And even when the first building went down, the evacuation continued to be fast, swift, but orderly, and people weren't killed as a result of the evacuation. I give a lot of the credit for that, if not all of it, to the firefighters and the police officers, the rescue workers, and then the group of civilians that acted as heroes that we just are never going to know about. I know about some of those stories, because I was so close to it, but you never know about all of them.

[ Key to Success ] Courage

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This page last revised on Apr 17, 2008 16:20 EST
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